By Sarah Torromino-Bastié
I WAS BORN AND raised in Italy and can’t
get enough of its beauty.
Let me guide you on a short trip to three
must-see Italian cities: Rome, Florence and
Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City. It
has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years;
most of its monuments are evidence of its
Plan to stay at least three days, and take
the Open Top Bus Hop-On Hop-O; Tour to
access to the most beautiful city locations.
;is double-decker bus o;ers recorded commentary in English and onboard help so you
can fully enjoy your visit.
Visit the perfectly preserved Pantheon,
the Colosseum (the largest amphitheater ever
built in the Roman Empire, used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles) and the
Vatican Museums, including the Sistine
Chapel with its imposing fresco featuring
Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Breathtaking! I
stare at this Italian masterpiece, and I can’t
take my eyes o; it.
Live like a local and mingle with Italians
in Trastevere, a popular district full of history,
just on the other side of the Tiber River. Tour
the gardens of Villa Borghese, and book a visit
to its poetic museum. Take a walk through
Piazza Navona, and admire its fountains and
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baroque architecture while you taste gelato.
Food is, of course, also part of the experience. Go to a trattoria, and ask for spaghetti
all’amatriciana (tomato sauce with pecorino
and guanciale), a Roman pasta specialty. If
you visit Rome in late fall or early winter be
sure to ask for puntarelle. ;ere is a certain
Roman pride and identity in this dish, since
these local greens—specially prepared tops of
a local variety of chicory—are found nowhere
else in Italy.
Before leaving Rome, stop at “the Mouth
of Truth,” or La Bocca as the Romans call it.
;is man-like face carved into marble is well
known for being a lie detector—by biting liars
who put their hands in its mouth. I tested it
myself several years ago before getting married to my husband. It works!
Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance,
is like a jewel box, rich with art masterpieces,
sophisticated and simply perfect.
Start by visiting the cathedral, or Duomo,
the U;zi Palace and the Accademia.
Take a tour of Piazza della Signoria and
its impressive fortress-palace, Palazzo
Vecchio. Head to the churches of Santa Maria
Novella and Santa Croce and the library of
San Lorenzo to discover the artistic genius
of this beautiful city.
Cross the Arno River from bank to bank
via historic bridges, such as the Ponte Vecchio.
Be sure to set aside time to see the vast art
collection housed in the Pitti Palace.
I like to climb the hill of San Miniato al
Monte and experience a postcard view of the
city. You can look all around you, over the
hills from Florence to the Chianti wine
region and its 13th-century vineyards, and
realize that Florence is just one of the jewels
of the majestic Tuscan region. Make your
stay truly memorable and visit the countryside and vineyards.
;ere is nothing more mysterious and
fascinating than Venice, La Serenissima,
meaning “the most serene.” Especially in
autumn, when an early-morning fog will suddenly rise to reveal this almost unreal city.
Prepare to walk its small, tra;c-free streets,
cross more than 400 bridges and discover a
labyrinth of 150 winding canals.
Take a vaporetto, a public boat, to ply the
main waterway. It is the most convenient way
to move around, although you can’t be blamed
if you can’t resist a romantic gondola ride.
Visit St. Mark’s Cathedral, climb to the
top of the bell tower, visit the Doge’s Palace
and walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Sip a great cappuccino in Italy’s oldest
café, Ca;è Florian, on St. Mark’s Square.
Discover the origins of the art of glassmaking on the island of Murano. Book an
opera night at the renewed La Fenice theater,
then ;nd a genuine osteria, a restaurant serving food and wine, where you can taste
Venetian white polenta and delicious spaghetti
with cuttle;sh, blackened with the ink. Pair it
with a bottle of Tocai, a local white wine.
Let me give a last piece of advice: Get lost
in Venice, explore, be surprised and build
your best vacation memories. C
APRIL 2012 ;e Costco Connection 63
Sarah Torromino-Bastié (http://personaltravel
er.squarespace.com) designs personalized daily
travel itineraries in Italy and France.